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Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Maxima, Mazda MAZDA3, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Lexus IS 250, Acura TSX, Car Comparisons, Sedan
#2958 of 3637 Used Car Under $10k - commute and winter mountains
Dec 01, 2012 (2:03 am)
My fiance and I need a second car. We have a 2001 Toyota Camry with about 110k miles right now. It has no major issues but we want a second car so we aren't sharing.
It needs good gas mileage, so we're leaning toward another mid-size sedan. It will mostly be used by one of us to get to work 5 days a week, so we don't want to spend a ton on gas.
We want something reliable. I've owned that Camry and a Honda Accord in the past, both purchased with high miles because I knew they would last long and be reliable. I'm open to any suggestions but my instincts say it should either have low miles or be a model that is well-known for reliability.
We also want it to be able to handle driving to the mountains for snowboarding. We're from Michigan so we're used to driving in snow, but now we're living in Seattle so we'd be taking it to the mountains (we'll also need some tire chains). It would also be nice if the trunk was wide enough to fit a 156cm long snowboard, like my Toyota can now, but as long as there is some way to fit the boards in back seat or something that is fine. I thought AWD would be nice, but I'm thinking that the cost of reduced fuel efficiency isn't worth it for the weekend trips to the mountains. From what I've heard it isn't that important anyway.
Our budget is $10k, but I'd like to keep it closer to $8k.
Ideally this will last us about 5 years and hold up a decent portion of its value in that time with regular maintenance.
Just looking for some ideas as to what to look out for in our search. Some make/model/year suggestions in that budget would be extremely helpful. Thanks!
Dec 01, 2012 (5:07 am)
At that price range, I'd suggest a Pontiac Vibe AWD or Toyota Matrix AWD. I'm not sure what you will find in a Subaru at that price range, but if you can, one of their hatches or wagons would also suite your driving and storage needs.
#2960 of 3637 Re: Used Car Under $10k - commute and winter mountains [mattsnowboard]
Dec 01, 2012 (6:42 am)
Since you seem to like the Toyota/Honda offerings, there's no reason not to look at a newer model of either. Frankly, I think the Camry that would fit into your budget is a dud and would recommend the Accord from 2004-2006. These should fit into your budget with careful shopping and are a much nicer vehicle than similar years Camry. I also would not recommend awd for your location and how often you expect to need it. Snow tires would be a far better investment and would actually help out a lot in rainy Seattle at well. Not only does the AWD requirement narrow your choices down drastically, the mpg is not impressive nor the performance. I'd take a FWD with snow tires over an AWD car with all-seasons any day. You may still need to chain up in the mountains depending on the local laws, but that's not a big deal really.
There are certainly other vehicles out there to pick from but you didn't give any other requirements beyond reliability and fuel mileage...and I thing Toyota and Honda have it wrapped up in this price range. There are more interesting or better performing or better looking vehicles...but Accord and Camry are just so plentiful and generally reliable I can't see much argument for anything better.
#2961 of 3637 Re: Used Car Under $10k - commute and winter mountains [sebring95]
Dec 01, 2012 (7:20 am)
I second the vote for an Accord, but I'd further refine that choice by noting that not all of the models had side curtain airbags until 2005. That's a big safety advantage. There are many, many Accords out there, and you should be selective when shopping. Because of their durability, you would do well to look for a model with high miles and a careful owner who did the maintenance required. Don't be afraid to get one with 150,000 miles -- you might need to accept that level to get into the sub-$10,000 range.
Avoid the V6 because of mileage concerns as well as the need to replace its timing belt every 100,000. Early Accords from that series (2003-2007) had auto transmission problems, so research that, too.
Regarding the Matrix/Vibe, drive one after you've driven an Accord. I don't think you'll like it much. Rough ride, noisy, not a lot of fun. Reliable and practical in terms of their shape, sure, but when I had to drive one as a rental years ago I couldn't wait to give it back.
#2962 of 3637 Re: Used Car Under $10k - commute and winter mountains [sebring95]
Dec 01, 2012 (9:53 am)
Thanks, I'll look into that! (still open to other suggestions too)
Quick question, I've always just had all-season tires in Michigan. If I got winter tires in Seattle, would I have to change them in the summer? I'm not sure how much of a hassle this would end up being living in an apartment with limited storage space. Or would they work okay year-round because it doesn't get too hot? I'm guessing that even though the climate is pretty moderate, it would be warm enough in the summer that the winter tires would wear down faster.
#2963 of 3637 Re: Used Car Under $10k - commute and winter mountains [mattsnowboard]
Dec 01, 2012 (10:00 am)
There are certain snow tires that you could run year round. You end up with an all-season with better than average snow traction...but obviously not as good as a true snow/ice tread. I used to run Nokian WR's on a VW Jetta diesel and they were great in the snow/ice/wet and even on warm days drove really quite nice. I was putting about 50k a year on that car and got two winters out of them plus drove them through a summer to burn them all the way down. They weren't as amazing as Blizzaks...but didn't handle as poorly or wear out as quick. So it's always somewhat of a compromise. The other option is to find a tire shop that will store your winter/summer tires for you.
#2964 of 3637 Re: Used Car Under $10k - commute and winter mountains [sebring95]
Dec 01, 2012 (10:43 am)
Thanks, I'll look into that option of finding a place that will change/store them.
I thought I found a good deal on a 2008 Accord (87k miles, $9900, clean carfax, too good to be true?), then I came across this: http://www.carcomplaints.com/Honda/Accord/2008/
Looks like I should look at anything but the 2008 model. The 2006 model has few problems according to that site (or very few people report it to that site). How accurate is that website on car complaints? Is it true that the brakes issue is a problem on the 2008 Accord, or is it something that could be fixed for a couple $100?
#2965 of 3637 Re: Used Car Under $10k - commute and winter mountains [sebring95]
Dec 01, 2012 (11:06 am)
I'm having good luck with Continental ExtremeContact DWS tires myself.
#2966 of 3637 Re: Used Car Under $10k - commute and winter mountains [mattsnowboard]
Dec 01, 2012 (12:48 pm)
The 2008 model was the first year of what's known as the 8th generation of the Accord (2008-12). Given the complexity of designing and manufacturing a car, there are issues that often aren't discovered until the new design has been produced, sold and driven extensively enough for those issues to emerge. This was a known phenomenon among American manufacturers for decades, but the Japanese quality control systems seemed to have been sufficiently robust to avoid the issue in years past. The 2008 Accord was, from my understanding, proof that even Honda can suffer from the first-year-is-the-worst-year malady. It's probably best just to avoid 2008s and look for 2005-07s that meet your requirements. By 2007, Honda had four years of experience with that (7th-generation) design, which was new in 2003. Many Accord fans prefer the 7th generation to the 8th generation for other reasons as well.
#2967 of 3637 Re: Used Car Under $10k - commute and winter mountains [mattsnowboard]
Dec 01, 2012 (8:42 pm)
Exactly why I left the '08+ off my list. Bigger, heavier, less performance/economy and too much cost trimming (aka chintzy bits) for the 8th gen. The 7th gen had a nice feel to it and my experience is there really weren't any major problems on the 4cyl models. I have a friend that is a service manager for a Honda dealer. On the side, he buys these with 150k-200k miles, goes through them to make sure they're serviced and takes care of any needed repairs. He has a waiting list of buyers....